Restoration: The first phase of restoration for adaptive reuse of Wangduechhoeling Palace, which began last year, was completed yesterday.

The first phase of the project includes renovation and consolidation of the Lingka Lhakhang and renovation of monks’ residence.

Built by Trongsa penlop, Jigme Namgyel in 1856, Wanduechhoeling Palace complex comprises of the chief central tower (Utse) surrounded by periphery buildings on all four sides (Shakor). In addition to the main palace, the complex houses other important structures within the palace grounds such as Chhukhor Manis (prayer wheel), Choeten Maap (stupa), the bachu (archery ground) and the Lingka lhakhang . The Second King, Jigme Wangchuck later built the Shakor and Lingka lhakhang.

At a cost Nu 300M, the project was executed to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. So far renovation of Lingka lhakhang on the left to the palace and lama’s residence located by the entrance of the palace has been completed.

A new store was also constructed close by the Lingka lhakhang. In the two-storied traditional Lingka lhakhang, the beams, woodwork, windowpanes and walls have been either repaired or were replaced. But repair works are done only where necessary since its restoration for adaptive reuse.

This is done to retain the lhakhang’s aesthetic and antique outlook, which distinguishes the restoration works of Wangduechhoeling from similar, other preservation and renovation works in dzongs.

“This project is unique in a sense, the restoration works touches only areas necessary while rest is left untouched,” project coordinator, Pema said. To ensure, conservation effort did not spoil the original works, complete structural assessment was done even before embarking on restoration works.

“For instance, if woodwork on door or window is found infested with termites or dilapidated only the damaged portion is replaced,” Zopeon (chief carpenter), Namgay said.

Similarly, only the portion of the damaged mud rammed walls was repaired. Equal care is also given in preserving the originality of paintings and murals.

“Since, it is difficult to get the same paint used in lhakhang’s painting, extreme care is given to avoid causing damage to its original paintings,” Pema said. Even painting tools like brush and spray s are selected after careful assessment by choosing only the ones, which cause no damage to its original work.

Photographic documentation of each painting is carried out before starting the restoration works.

Works on the main palace is yet to begin. The restoration for the main palace, which consists of the Utse, enclosed by Shakor would begin his month.

The project is aimed at conservation and restoration of the historic monument hailed as the birthplace of Bhutan’s monarchy to educate visitors on the history of the origin of Wangchuck dynasty.

This project would also serve as an example of a successful adaptive reuse concept at a time when traditional structures are in danger of being replaced by concrete constructions for economic gains. Wangduechhoeling is the only authentic palace built in Bhutan against the stereotype that every dzong was built as a defense mechanism from Tibetan invasions.

The restoration work is scheduled to complete by September 30, 2017.

Tempa Wangdi, Bumthang